Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ebony and Ivory (Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson)

When I was a kid my cousin Martin told us all about his girlfriend Gia from college. From what my aunt told us Gia was smart, motivated, and got my cousin to apply for an internship at an auction house in New York. She chirped away at how wonderful this young woman was and what a difference she was making in Martin’s life. My Aunt mentioned speaking to Gia once on the phone and that she was “very sweet with a good sense of humor.” So we were all looking forward to meeting her at my grandparent’s anniversary gala that year. Like my cousin, Gia was a studio art major at Carnegie Mellon University. Apparently her mother also worked for President Clinton. However there was one detail my cousin left out.
Gia was guess who’s coming to dinner. She was ebony while my cousin was ivory. Translated, Gia was black. Yes my cousin was dating a black girl. You just didn’t do that in Western, PA. While the bathrooms and malls as well as theatres had been multi-racial since my parents were teenagers interracial dating was another matter. It was awkward meeting her at first. Not that I had an issue with it. Gia was very sweet and I liked talking to her. But what were my grandparents going to say? While they are good people they were from a different time. My Pop Pop shrugged it off. As long as Martin was happy. Nunni said what we were all thinking. “We all thought Martin was gay. He threw us off by being a vegetarian. Guess he surprised us all.”
Instantly Gia was accepted and we grew to like her a lot. During their courtship my brother Wendell nicknamed our cousin Brother Martin because he was a skinny, dorky, white dude who was a vegetarian and no one suspected he had such pimp power. Their relationship lasted about a year and we were upset when it ended. Why did Martin have to go screw it up with a woman who was so perfect? A woman who got him to focus on his goals? A woman who was so sweet? While my cousin has dated nice women since we all like Gia. But my mom’s family was the exception.
Around the time Gia dated Martin, I had adults around me with differing opinions. Some were family members that were distant on both sides. Others were parents of my friends. One such relation pulled me aside at a gathering because according to them I was dating age and we needed to have this convo. They informed me that while Martin was being daring “taking a bite of the dark meat,” I was not to do the same thing. In their words, only “trashy white women” did such a thing. Oh and once they did no white man would ever want them afterward. They would be tainted.
A friend’s dad was less than diplomatic. They lived a few streets over from a neighborhood that was sort of wrong side of the trackish. The black families and white trash kind of resided in the houses that looked like they were built out of cardboard. To them their neighbors were “pure filth” who made a lot of noise and “never worked.” I remember my friend’s dad caught wind of this and he said to me, “April, feel free to date who you want. But if you were my daughter dating a jigaboo I would probably beat you and you wouldn’t be welcome in my house. Oh, and once you start dating said jigaboo, he will treat you like property and beat you. And then when you have his kids he will leave you stranded.”
While looking back, these sentiments are terrible, I didn’t have any ready plans to date outside my race. There really weren’t blacks at my school. Actually there were six and they were all related. Any others that matriculated in were related as well. Occasionally we would get a group home kid or two, but they never lasted really usually cause they punched a teacher or something. It had nothing to do with them being black. We had white group home kids that did the same thing. Sometimes people done need to be schooled, even teachers.
However an experience in high school would scare me away from dating outside my race for sometime. About a year and a half later I made friends with a girl by the name of Annette. She had come to us from the Christian Academy and was a big Jesus nut. Freshmen year she began dating Jamal, a group home kid who was cousins with the six black kids in our school. (I didn’t want to assume all black people are related but in this case they are). Right away the white guys didn’t want anything to do with her. Whenever someone would pass her in the hall they would say, “There goes that piece of trash.” Then they would giggle and take bets on how long it would take for him to start using her as a punching bag.
Once in a study hall a tobacco chewing idiot heard us talking about her plans with Jamal. Apparently they were going out Friday night but couldn’t go out too late because Jamal had a probation curfew in his group home. Regardless of color, Jamal was a lousy boyfriend who never had any money and always made her pay. So this mongoloid turns around to offer his two cents. He turned around and said, “God made whites white and blacks black so that they wouldn’t mix. If you keep fucking that n***er your beige babies will have kinky hair.” Sure it was none of his business. But this mouth breather spoke for everyone in our area. From that day onward no white guy wanted her. Then again, she was also an extreme Jesus freak who tried to convert anyone who breathed. That pisses off anyone of any color.
That wasn’t even the worst of it. Annette got her ass beaten on the regular by Jamal’s sisters and cousins every time she went to visit him on the wrong side of the tracks. Just for kicks some of the white trash girls would jump in. I remember Annette coming to school with fat lips and black eyes. During this phase we hung out a lot and looked a like from the back. I was walking down the hall and heard, “Bitch, I want to beat your ass.” I turned around and it was Jamal’s sisters and their friends. I was dumbfounded and there was this moment of awkwardness. Jamal’s sister Keisha then said, “We are sorry April. We thought you were Annette. Tell Annette when we see her we will beat her fucking ass.” I lied and said I would deliver the message. My friend got pregnant with Jamal’s kid. Soon afterwards she dropped out of high school. He refused to work and started beating her up. Then she had another one of his kids and went to jail a few times before bolting. As I saw my friend in misery I wondered if some of my relatives and friend’s parents were correct. It was horrible to believe but maybe it was true. Then again, the truth isn’t always nice now is it?
When I moved to NYC I saw plenty of checkered couples as they were called, or salt n peppa. While in Western PA it would get you cat called and beaten up, in New York it seemed to be no big deal. They walked arm and arm peacefully, and seemed to have no problem showing off their mixed children. The whole thing was a huge culture shock for me. A lot of me wondered how the women didn’t do this without being stoned onsite. However I didn’t judge. One girl who I was fond of freshmen year had a black boyfriend and they always came to support me whenever I performed. It worked for them. But I was too afraid after Annette to touch that with a ten foot pole.

I was kind of on the shy side too. Black and Spanish guys were so straight forward it made my hair stand on end. The culture shock was too much as it was. I wasn’t a big dater anyway. Plus the opportunity didn’t come up to date outside of my race really. Sophomore year was different. I had the opportunity to date a black dude. Unlike Jamal, Jermaine was educated. He was ex-military and was doing work in the School of Continuing Ed. We had coffee once and while I didn’t get beaten, I remembered my friend Annette and how terrible her life was. Sure it was terrible to make Jamal the spokesmen for all black men, but it was hard not to. It was hard after everything my rels and friend’s parents had said came true. We were both busy and the connection fizzled. I could have pursued it but let it die. Looking back, I let someone of quality go because I was such an idiot and am ashamed to say it now. But still, it was scary.
During college and afterward, I dated mostly white boys when I did date. Many proved to have a lot of issues of their own and caused me grief in various ways which again is for another blog. While I was uptight about dating men of color, my gay friends were not. They embraced love outside of their color lines and bragged about dark meat and how well endowed it was. Sure there are better reasons to date someone than dick size but hey, we all have our needs I suppose. While they never left out a detail which made me chuckle, whatever made them happy, right?
Still I just wasn’t there in my life yet. I also didn’t have the opportunity. I worked a lot and plus I just wasn’t looking.
The universe had other plans though. I was at a show one night when a black dude asked me out. We clicked and I saw him a few times. This time around I found the fact he was so straight forward refreshing instead of frightening. I found that I laughed a lot with him and felt good. For the record, he never once hit me and he was a good tipper. Oh, and we didn’t dine and dash either. It didn’t last because it just fizzled out but it was fun. I sort of went through a small Jungle Fever phase and dated several black guys in a row. While I am hardly Kim Kardashian, I can safely say I can understand why she likes them. They were more romantic than white guys in my experience and just had more soul.  Not to mention they understood why I was so close to my mother and why I would kill anyone who spoke badly about her and do the time in jail with pleasure. White guys don’t always. They say things like, “Your mother is a grown woman. She can handle it.”When I dated them I didn’t see a color or a stigma but a personal connection. Sure it didn’t last but sometimes things just don’t. It doesn’t mean they were bad people.
After that I went through a Spanish Fly type of phase.  For the record that was not planned, it just happened. The opportunity presented itself and it just happened. Sure they were high drama sometimes, but white guys can be too. They just don’t get the street cred when it comes to being mucho dramatico. Spanish dudes also respected the familial connection I had, especially the one with Mi Madre and again, they understood why I am extremely protective of her. They also were good cooks. I had white guys cook for me, but they always had the same three recipes or they burned the Ramen Noodles. Spanish guys were great in the kitchen. They have a rep for being jealous and possessive, but white guys can be too as can black dudes and dues of any color. Most of the Spanish dudes I dated were pretty chill when it came to that with one exception. But I have dated crazy insecure white dudes so hey, maybe it’s a guy thing in general. I dunno. I dated several and again was not beaten or sold. Again it fizzled out not because we did anything bad but life simply just happens. But they were good people.
Since that time I have dated Arabs, Pacific Islanders, an Eskimo, and some guy who was a Gypsy. Don’t ask. Oh and then I dated Jewish guys too. In there I have mixed some WASPY guys. After that there were the white boys and skater boys. Some were nice, some were crazy. Some were bums regardless of their skin color. Others were cool and it just never worked out cause that is just life. Translated, I like what is on the inside not the outside.
The thing to be aware of when dating outside your race is that it isn’t just color that is different but the culture. Your ideas and their ideas might be very different when it comes to certain things. Have an open mind and be ready. Also, just remember at the end of the day regardless of who they are on the outside it counts again about the person on the inside. Don’t date outside of your race to piss off a redneck relative, because that person of a different color is still a person. Also, there will be people who will give you shit. But it doesn’t matter what they think. This is your life, therefore it is your happiness that matters regardless of what color your soul mate is. And for the record, kinky haired, mixed children like Halle Barry are beautiful and pimp it out on the golf course like Tiger Woods. Oh and our wonderful president Mr. Barack Obama is of mixed race and he too is black white and half white. The world is changing for the better and is you ask me it is a good thing, end of story. 
Since that time I found out I have cousins that are mixed. Some of my cousins are part black and others are part Indian. That is a beautiful thing and makes my family that much cooler, and both are stories for a different blog. My cousin is also currently dating a very nice Korean man, so my family is becoming even more mixed which is exciting.
In the end a guy is a guy is a guy. Regardless of what race, color, religion or creed they are one thing is for certain. They are all  sex starved, adult man children looking for a mommy who will give you a job or an errand to run for them without a second thought.  What I am trying to say is, we are all more alike than we know.

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl
Paperback available on Amazon and 877-Buy-Book
E-Book available on Kindle and Nook
Audiobook available on itunes and Audible this Spring
Portion of proceeds go to RAINN

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